BRISTOL - The Startup Bristol grant program, for new and young businesses, is ramping up for its second year of competition with $100,000 in award money - double last year’s - city officials announced Thursday.
“We already have several businesses waiting to apply,” said Bristol Development Authority Director Justin Malley. “We have incentive programs, but in years past, we haven’t had an incentive program for startups. Finally, now we have something to offer.”
The competition will probably launch in late winter or early spring, Malley said. The five-person committee, which will judge the entries, is set to meet next week.
“It’s awesome. It’s one of the first things I tell people I’ll be doing, said BDA Economic Development Specialist Ani Chaghatzbanian, who will be running most of the program. “I’ve seen other towns with services, but nothing like this.”
The program will be advertised through social media, print and radio statewide, said BDA Marketing and Public Relations Specialist Mark Thomas.
“We’re going to have to target our audiences, either someone in established role or someone right out of college and find where they like their messages,” Thomas said.
The goal of Startup Bristol is to bring young and growing businesses to the city.
“I think it’s important to know one aspect of the competition is to attract new businesses and people to the area,” Thomas said. “We’re unique in that this is grass roots and home-grown.”
Last year, the pilot program split $50,000 in prize money between three businesses.
Last year there were 35 entrants, most from Central Connecticut, in the competition. BDA officials are expecting many more with the bigger prize money and the broader marketing.
“It will probably be more challenging to pick candidates, with more competition this year,” Chaghatzbanian said. “If someone is already running a business and wants to start something new, a spinoff, that’s a candidate too.”
Of the three winners last year, only one was a Bristol business.
Asarasi Sparkling Tree Water, which won $22,500, is still looking to open offices in the city; Krust Pizza in Middletown, which won $22,500, is still looking for a suitable spot to open its second location in town; Bristol CT Yoga and Café used its $5,000 to market a new café, which closed last fall. Krust and Asarasi will not receive money until they locate in Bristol.
“We have to try new things. We’re not going to settle for the status quo,” Malley said. “Doing this every year allows us an opportunity to broadcast to the state that we’re a place to do business. It’s getting our name out.”
Eve Britton can be reached at .